Harry Lee, Rest in Peace

The great man is dead. I had my issues with the man, and I believe that history will not be kind to him. His great work in Singapore will soon be undone. His successors will not have his genius or drive; and soon a targeted Progressive onslaught will bring leftist agitation, an untethered press, and electoral change.

I think it’s wrong to see him as a reactionary politician. He completely lacked any appreciation for traditional culture; in fact much of his work was about breaking the spine of the local Chinese associations, forbidden their dialects, their economic bases, and subsuming all ethnic and racial communities into his vision of a modern, English speaking nation.

He is more rightly viewed as the ultimate Legalist scholar, in the Chinese tradition of government. Unlike Shang Yang, who was ignominiously killed after finishing his work, or Han Fei, who was murdered before he could realize his vision; Lee Kuan Yew had absolute power in his person, and held power until his death. And he achieved the great legalist vision of achieving a wealthy and ordered society through skillful government, unapologetic about his ultimate authority and recourse to violence.

What really marked his name among this circles is not his success at government. Singapore is far away, has a very peculiar set of circumstances, so LKY’s model most likely isn’t applicable to other locations or scales. It is also likely to unravel in the next decades, unable to resist leftist entropy.

What was most admirable about Harry Lee (the name he preferred, his first language was English), was his intelligence, his powers of perception, and his will to speak his mind. His views on good government, or race and human equality are so fresh, bright and insightful, that one often yearns for a dictator if only to have a public figure willing to speak his mind.

How do I wish we had leaders who spoke like this:

A good speech like this would do more than all our blogs combined. Alas we will never have it.

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19 Comments.

  1. Harry Lee, Rest in Peace | Neoreactive - pingback on March 23, 2015 at 7:50 pm
  2. Harry Lee, Rest in Peace | Reaction Times - pingback on March 23, 2015 at 11:25 pm
  3. “I think it’s wrong to see him as a reactionary politician. He completely lacked any appreciation for traditional culture; in fact much of his work was about breaking the spine of the local Chinese associations, forbidden their dialects, their economic bases, and subsuming all ethnic and racial communities into his vision of a modern, English speaking nation.”

    I don’t think this statement could be more wrong. If Lee had encouraged Chinese nationalism, he would have taken over the role of the Western press and essentially been inciting race riots.

    Encouraging nationalism is all fine and good if your the Duke of Luxembourg, but if you’re the head of Singapore, it’s basically murder. Breaking up the local Chinese associations, etc, was the point! That’s how he was able to accomplish what he accomplished.

    If running a country such that it is stable, prosperous, and peaceful disqualifies one from being a reactionary because one’s methods weren’t sufficiently traditionalist, I think things have gone way too far off the rails. (I’d say traditionalist to the dominant culture, but in Singapore, who’s to say what that even means)?

    • I don’t define “reactionary” as the club to which I belong, and thus am in a position to disqualify LKY from belonging to it.

      I mean reactionary as what the world has always meant before Moldbug started playing with it. LKY was not a restorer of an old order, wasn’t appreciative of traditional culture, and wasn’t opposed to leftism as a matter of religion.

      He was an extremely bright, focused and effective political leader. But he wasn’t a reactionary (taken as an adjective). And I think that “legalist” as an adjective suits him better; he’d have been at home with many Chinese ministers of antiquity.

      I’m also not saying that LKY should have encouraged Chinese nationalism. Just pointing out that he has enemies on that side too, and thinking long term, I do think it’s interesting to think what would have happened if the Commies hadn’t met their match in LKY and had overrun the whole of Malaya. Do remember that LKY himself was duped by the Malays in 1965 and held the grudge until his death. He never forgave himself.

    • 71 On his critics: “Not all who oppose the PAP are communists; some are communists, some reactionaries, some opportunists and some merely confused.” 1961, The Wit & Wisdom of Lee Kuan Yew

  4. Friday Night Fragments #21 – The Legionnaire - pingback on March 27, 2015 at 10:01 pm
  5. This Week in Reaction (2015/03/27) | The Reactivity Place - pingback on March 28, 2015 at 6:49 am
    • This brat has a bright future as a Cathedral commissar.

      • He’s …17?

        Anyway, who knows. Someone once said that whomever wasn’t a bit of a commie in his young age has no heart, and whoever is still a commie by age 40 has no brains.

        Such naivete. Happiness as the measure of all things.

        • I’d rephrase that quote.

          Anyone who isn’t socialist at age 20 has no talent for signalling; anyone who is still socialist at age 40 is pretty damn good at it.

          • Steve Johnson

            At 20 you have to signal that you’re a socialist to get accepted into various actually powerful cliques.

            If you’re still broadcasting that signal at 40 it means you failed to get accepted. By 40 you should be hiding it so you don’t reveal your clique.

          • I thought about that too; but why should you need to hide your clique?

            I guess there’s something to that; but some powerful people must broadcast a lot, if only because they work under the public spotlight. It probably does apply to more narrow definitions of elite.

          • Steve Johnson

            We live in a world where people tweet things like this:

            Scott WesterfeldVerified account
            ‏@ScottWesterfeld
            Plot idea: 97% of the world’s scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires & oil companies.

            The power structure is a bunch of communists pretending to be capitalists who tell people that everything is actually being run by a different cabal of capitalists that they’re not a part of.

            Completely insane but they can’t back down now. “Yeah, we’re actually communists – we’ve been pulling your leg about, well, everything”.

  6. The Fall of Singapore’s Monarchy | Bloody shovel - pingback on June 20, 2017 at 5:07 pm

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